During the press conference to announce NOKIA being acquired by Microsoft back in 2013, Nokia CEO ended his speech saying this “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.” Upon saying that, all his management team, himself included, teared sadly.
Nokia was a strong corporation. Incorporated in Finland in 1865, it became one of the biggest corporations in the world. So, what happened? I believe the simple answer is that a dynamic, evolving marketplace outpaced company leaders’ strategic thinking.
Nokia has been a respectable company. They didn’t do anything wrong in their business, however, the world changed too fast. Their opponents were too powerful. They missed out on learning, they missed out on changing, and thus they lost the opportunity at hand to make it big. Not only did they miss the opportunity to earn big money, but also, they lost their chance of survival.
The message of this story is simple yet challenging, if you don’t change (repent), you shall be removed from the competition. If your thoughts and mindset cannot catch up with time, you will be eliminated. The advantage you have yesterday, will be replaced by the trends of tomorrow. You don’t have to do anything wrong, as long as your competitors catch the wave and do it RIGHT, you can lose out and fail. Those who refuse to learn and improve, will no longer exist.
This Sunday is the Second Sunday in Lent and we continue our journey with Jesus in Galilee. As we do so, we actually dig deep to the roots, the beginnings of the gospel. In Mark 1:14-15 we read, “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Jesus’ message to the Galileans was both encouraging and challenging. In Galilee, Jesus proclaimed the good news of God first. It was not in Jerusalem where people with power, influence, wealth, and education lived, but in Galilee, where the least of the least. On one hand, it was encouraging because God’s grace is manifested in the most unlikely of places. God shows up in the most desperate and hopeless situations and places in our lives. But on the other hand, it was also challenging because Christ’s message demanded a decision; it demanded a change. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
As mentioned last week, Jesus’ first sermon is a three-point sermon, another proof that Jesus was a good Presbyterian. My goal during the first three Sundays in Lent is to outline the three points of Christ’s first sermon and then we will work through them together.
First: The Time Has Come
In Galilee, Jesus preached His first sermon. “The time has come,” He said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The time is fulfilled ~ Greek has two words for time. The first is chronos, from which we get our English chronological and chronology. Chronos is the measurement of time. It’s clock time. It’s the answer to the question “What time is it?” The other Greek word is kairos. It’s not clock time, it’s the critical time, the right time, the time you’ve been waiting for, the time of your life. It is a moment of truth, a turning point, a decision time.
A lot of Christians are chronos challenged. Yet, Christians should seize those “kairos” moments. If you put off a kairos time, you will miss a critical moment in your life. It’s your time to make a decision. It’s the turning point of history or, at least, your history. The time has come for you. Jesus asks, “Are you in? Will you sign up? Will you follow?” When we hear God’s voice, we can either live in the chronos or the kairos.
Second: The Kingdom of God Has Come Near
The second point in Jesus’ sermon had to do with the coming of God’s Kingdom. Jesus only used the word “church” 2 times in the gospels. But He talked about the Kingdom of God over 80 times. His audience knew about kingdoms. From the time of the prophets until Jesus’ day, the people of Israel lived under the oppression and domination of one kingdom after another. They lived under the Assyrians, the Babylonians, under the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. Throughout that time, the prophets promised the Lord is coming to set up His kingdom and set His people free.
So when someone announced this was about to happen, as many people did over the years, there were two reactions: cheers and fears. Cheers because the people thought, “Now is our time to rule.” Fears because every one of these revolutions failed and it was always worse afterwards. I’m sure when Jesus said, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near,” there were cheers and fears and probably even some jeers. I’m also sure no one understood what Jesus meant.
I believe the same is true today. What does Jesus mean by the Kingdom of God? Kingdoms and governments are united by borders and languages, capital cities and currencies, laws and flags, armies and bureaucracies. The Kingdom of God has none of those. There are no borders, no currency, no capital city, no single language and no flag. God’s Kingdom includes people from every nation, tribe and tongue. So what unites the Kingdom of God? The King – Jesus Christ. You belong to the Kingdom of God if Christ is your King.
Jesus invites us today to be a part of His Kingdom. The Kingdom is at hand. But we have to know that the Kingdom of God is not an institution it is a revolution. The Kingdom of God is not membership in a club it’s a movement. It’s not an administration it is an adventure.
Do you want to join the movement? Are you ready for the revolution? Are you willing to sign on for the adventure of your life? Before you say yes, let me tell you what you are getting yourself into. Yes, being part of the Kingdom means eternal life. Yes it means salvation. But here’s the fine print. The Kingdom is not just about you being saved. The Jewish people in Jesus’ days didn’t get it.
Friends, the Kingdom of God is not about me and it’s not about you. It’s not only about salvation. It’s also about restoration: restoring the people who are lost and broken in this world, restoring the people who are hurting and hungry and homeless and hopeless in this world, restoring the creation and restoring justice. Why? Because that is what we see our King doing. We are saved to be sent. We are saved to serve. We are saved to share. If Jesus is our King, then we need to do what we see Him doing and walk where we hear Him talking. The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! Amen.
First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday March 17th, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris Yousef, Pastor